English: Why are poems like spells?

This week, we will be focusing on English, with a session on poetry and magic. This class uses Shakespeare’s Macbeth as an example, but the themes covered in this class are relevant for any poetry or Shakespeare play you might be studying at GCSE, not just Macbeth!

Also remember to check out the competition that goes with this class – as with the virtual Inspire classes you have been working on earlier this year, there are prizes to be won in the form of Amazon vouchers with every competition! See details of this week’s competition at the bottom of this page.

Competition: The Magic Number

In the video class ‘Why are poems like spells?’ one of the topics that Sammy explores is the occurrence, over and over again, of ‘magic’ numbers two and three in storytelling and literature – for instance, the binary opposition between good and evil (such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the Star Wars films), or the need to choose between three different options (such as the three bowls of porridge that Goldilocks encounters in the fairy tale of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’).

Pick a story or text that you are familiar with, ideally one that you are studying in your English lessons at school. It could be a play, poem, short story, novel, film – anything! Can you find any examples or occurrences of these ‘magic’ numbers in this story or text? Or maybe there are other prominent numbers (hint: seven and nine are also very common ‘magic numbers’ in literature – think of seven Horcruxes in the Harry Potter books, or the proverbial ‘nine lives’ that cats are traditionally said to have). You might find them in anything from the overarching themes of the plot, as in the Star Wars and Goldilocks examples, right down to a single line of a poem, as in “Double, double toil and trouble” from Macbeth.

Thinking about the story or text you have chosen, write up to 300 words describing how ‘magic’ number(s) are used in your example, and why you think the author or storyteller has decided to use this device.

As you are thinking about this activity, you might also want to compare ideas with your Inspire classmates, to see if you can find any more examples – it is more common than you think!

To enter this competition, please click here. The deadline is 5pm on Wednesday 21st April 2021.